Egypt: Democracy Or Bust

Andrew Sullivan —  Nov 22 2011 @ 3:12pm

On the fourth day of mass protests, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) offered to create a national unity government and hold elections by July, but the protestors appear to have rejected the deal, demanding the immediate resignation of SCAF head Mohamed Tantawi. Steven A. Cook thinks the SCAF has no one to blame but itself:

Over the past nine months, SCAF's attempt at governing has faltered at every conceivable step, alienating former allies and laying the ground for the current unrest. SCAF chairman Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi and his officers have never offered Egyptians a political horizon, never empowered civilian ministers, and favored fleeting tactical agreements with political groups over serious negotiations. That's how you get stunning ironies like the 26-year-old Asmaa Mahfouz — a prominent activist — dragged before a military tribunal for merely insulting Tantawi and the SCAF, while Mubarak regime stalwarts like former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, a man responsible for actually killing Egyptians, goes before civilian judges who are suspected of being sympathetic to him.

Brian Ulrich thinks we should get used to mass protests in Egypt, but Walter Russell Mead is skeptical they can bring down the SCAF. Shadi Hamid argues that, no matter what, next week's elections should take place as planned:

The polarization that would likely result is difficult to overstate. It is easy to imagine how such a situation could spiral wildly, and violently, out of control. If Islamists — particularly those, like the Salafis, who have entered the democratic process for the very first time — begin to lose faith in the democratic process, it may lead to a radicalization of the Islamist rank-and-file, setting the country back considerably. And once democratic processes are derailed, it can become rather difficult to recover, as in Algeria 1991, Jordan 1993, and Turkey mid-1990s.

Issandr El Amrani differs. So does Marc Lynch. Paul Pillar develops a possible American response to the turmoil. For general news updates, check out Mary Casey & Tom Kutsch, as well as Juan Cole. This photo purportedly documents murdered protestors stacked together in Tahrir:


And, in a sad symmetry that captures the motivation behind the protests, this man who lost his right eye to a Mubarak rubber bullet apparently just lost his left to one shot by Tantawi's troops: